(active 1410-1420)

St Dorothy

Lime-wood with traces of paint, height169,5 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

The statue most probably was decorating a larger tabernacle in the company of other female saints flanking the representation of the Virgin Mary. The sculpture is one of the most exquisite examples of the International Soft Style created in Hungary around 1410 or 1420. With its slender figure and sincere and thoughtful facial expression, St. Dorothy is unique among the similar statues found in this region; it is taller than the other Beautiful Virgins, and the drapery of her dress, together with her attribute, the flower basket, smoothly follows the outline of her body. Although the folds of her robe and the curve of her arms resembles the classical manner of presentation, they never become an independent plastic form; instead, they follow closely the soft S-line of the body. The sculpture is distinguished from its close relatives by the fineness of the carving, the sincere expression of the face, as well as by the more balanced arrangement and its exceptional proportions.

St Dorothy was an important female saints, often shown together with St Barbara abd Catherine. Dorothy had a particularly poetic legend. Like St Sebastian, she was condemned to death by Emperor Diocletian. On the way to the place of execution, a lawyer called Theophilus mockingly asked her to send him flowers and fruit from Paradise. Dorothy promised that she would. When she knelt to say a final prayer, a little boy suddenly appeared beside her. He offered her a basket with fruit and roses that were already in bloom, even though it was mid-winter. Dorothy asked him to give it to Theophilus, who became a Christian after her execution and was later martyred in his turn. Dorothy, needless to say, became the patron saint of gardeners and flower-sellers, and the statue shows her with the flower basket.